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A cerebral aneurysm is the dilation, bulging or ballooning out of part of the
wall of a vein or artery in the brain. The disorder may result from congenital
defects or from other conditions such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis
(the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries), or head trauma. Cerebral aneurysms
can occur at any age, although they are more common in adults than in children
and are slightly more common in women than in men. The signs and symptoms of
an unruptured cerebral aneurysm will partly depend on its size and rate of growth.
For example, a small, unchanging aneurysm will generally produce no symptoms,
whereas a larger aneurysm that is steadily growing may produce symptoms such
as loss of feeling in the face or problems with the eyes. Immediately before
an aneurysm ruptures, an individual may experience such symptoms as a sudden
and usually severe headache, nausea, vision impairment, vomiting, and loss of
consciousness. Rupture of a cerebral aneurysm usually results in bleeding in
the brain, causing a hemhorrhagic stroke.
Or blood can leak into the
area surrounding the brain and develop into an intracranial hematoma
blood clot within the skull). Rebleeding, hydrocephalus
accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid), vasospasm
(spasm of the blood
vessels), or additional aneurysms may also occur.
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Emergency treatment for individuals with a ruptured cerebral aneurysm generally
includes restoring deteriorating respiration and reducing intracranial pressure.
Surgery is usually performed within the first 3 days to clip the ruptured aneurysm
and to reduce the risk of rebleeding. When aneurysms are discovered before rupture
occurs, microcoil thrombosis or balloon embolization may be performed on patients
for whom surgery is considered too risky. During these procedures, a thin, hollow
tube (catheter) is inserted through an artery to travel up to the brain. Once
the catheter reaches the aneurysm, tiny balloons or coils are used to block
blood flow through the aneurysm. Other treatments may include bed rest, drug
therapy, or hypertensive-hypervolemic therapy (which elevates blood pressure,
increases blood volume, and thins the blood) to drive blood flow through and
around blocked arteries and control vasospasm.
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The prognosis for a patient with a ruptured cerebral aneurysm depends on the
extent and location of the aneurysm, the person’s age, general health, and neurological
condition. Some individuals with a ruptured cerebral aneurysm die from the initial
bleeding. Other individuals with cerebral aneurysm recover with little or no
neurological deficit. Early diagnosis and treatment are important.
Brain Aneurysm Foundation
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